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Italian bridge collapse investigator rules out geotechnical failure

Geotechnical failure is unlikely to be the cause of the collapse of the Morandi Bridge – also known as the Polcevera viaduct – last week, according to one of the engineers working on the investigation.

University of Genoa associate professor Antonio Brencich told GE’s sister publication NCE that he has already ruled out geotechnical failure of the tower’s foundation as the cause of the failure that killed 43 people.

Brencich is one of six people appointed to lead an investigation by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and the group is expected to deliver its report in 30 days.

Italian road infrastructure operator Autostrade per I’Italia has previously confirmed that foundation work was underway at the time of the collapse, which combined with heavy rainfall, had led to speculation that a geotechnical issue had triggered the failure. However, Brencich told NCE that he had already dismissed this theory.

“The only thing I am certain of is that it is not a geotechnical problem, because you see no rotation of the tower. It is piled and when it collapsed it was in summer rain, but in winter this is filled with water [river bed],” he said in an interview with NCE.

“I think the ‘lightning’ as it went down was probably the bridge hitting the electrified lines of the train below not from actual lightning.”

Brencich said that corrosion is being investigated as a possible cause of the collapse.


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